Last night the most talented Kansas basketball team Bill Self has ever coached took the floor for the first time. Although it was an exhibition game against Pitt State, there are a lot of things to take away from the game.
The Jayhawks won the game in convincing fashion with a final score of 97-57, but it was not a dominating performance. For most of the first half, the Gorillas stuck around and kept it close before a late-half run put it out of reach.
In the beginning of the first half Kansas looked like an AAU team; there was very little chemistry in the offense. That is to be expected with all the new, talented faces on the court. These players have barely had time to play with each other, and it will take time before the offense looks like a typical Self coached team.
In order for Andrew Wiggins to live up to the hype he would have had to score 100 points and fly through the air like Michael Jordan on “Space Jam”. He did not do that, but he had flashes that showed his worth.
He looked very nervous, and who can blame him after the publicity he has gotten. This was evident with his very first touch of the basketball, when he traveled. He was just too amped up for this game and it took him awhile to slow down in order to do the things he is accustomed to. He ended the game with 16 points, six rebounds, and two blocks on 5-13 shooting.
His athleticism was showcased to its fullest on the alley-oop thrown by Jamari Traylor, in which he seemed to be on an elevator climbing over the defender and throwing it down. Plays like that will probably be a fairly consistent thing.
The most impressive player was Naadir Tharpe for many reasons. He is going to be the most important player on this team and will need to show some junior leadership for this team to mesh. Last night was a perfect example of what the team needs from him in order to reach their potential.
With all the scoring ability around him, his scoring ability should be used very minimally. Tharpe will be asked to get all the players in the right position, and give them the ball in the places they can succeed. He finished the game last night with nine assists and zero turnovers. He will lead the Big 12 in assists and assist/turnover ratio.
Perry Ellis once again had a very quiet 16 points. He is just a natural scorer and will probably lead this team in scoring at year’s end. His post game looks improved from last year, especially with his back to the basket.
Its safe to say that Conner Frankamp needs more time before he is ready to play at this level, which is why he will be red shirted this year. His most valuable trait in high school was his shooting ability and confidence to shoot from anywhere. There were times last night he had open shots or passed on them, showing his lack of confidence.
Joel Embiid has only been playing basketball for three years, this being his fourth. His potential was very evident last night, but his lack of experience was also. His offensive ability is very limited right now and needs a few years to develop his post game and evolve into a scorer. His footwork and mobility for a seven footer is remarkable, and he moves around like a guard sometimes. He is an emerging star and as the season progresses will have a bigger impact on college basketball.
The other player that stood out was Tarik Black. He ripped down 11 rebounds in a grown man like manner. Most of the rebounds were in traffic where it looked like someone else might get it. Embiid can learn a thing or two from Black on the rebounding and physical play aspect of basketball. Black finished when he had the chance, but he is on this team for his physicality and rebounding, which he did very well last night.
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